Much of Sibande’s work centres on her alter ego, Sophie, who manifests as life-sized models, cast from Sibande’s own body. Through the years Sophie had been dressed in an ever-evolving series of costumes that chart her journey from servitude to empowerment. Her uniform pays homage to Sibande’s ancestors, from her great grandmother to her mother, who all worked as domestic servants.
The exhibition will bring together photographs and a major series of installations including Long live the Dead Queen (2009–13), The Purple Shall Govern (2013–17) and I Came Apart at the Seams (2019). Sibande highlights Sophie’s journey with vibrant colours, moving through the exhibition from blue, to purple, to red and in doing so, addressing three major epochs in South Africa’s history.
Mary Sibande, Silent Symphony, 2010. (c) Mary Sibande
Long Live the Dead Queen sees Sophie dressed in a blue maid’s uniform with a white apron and bonnet. With her eyes shut tight she imagines herself as a queen, a bishop and a conductor, each dream played out in a series of tableaux.
The Purple Shall Govern sees Sophie become an almost mythical being. Inspired by Cape Town’s 1989 anti-apartheid protest, which became known as the Purple Rain Protest because of the purple died that police sprayed at the crowds, these tableaux present a woman seeking redress. In A Reversed Retrogress, Scene 1, Sophie confronts her future self in hues of vibrant red. The exhibition will end with Sibande’s most recent work, which will tackle the continued inequity within contemporary South Africa.
Although this exhibition opens alongside the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, it will run in the Terrace Rooms until 5 Jan.
|What||Mary Sibande: I Came Apart at the Seams, Somerset House|
|Where||Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Temple (underground)|
03 Oct 19 – 05 Jan 20, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|